Why didn't I take photographs? Six years ago I drove an antique Model T Ford into one of the poorest places in old Miami, a trailer park which has since vanished for redevelopment. The Magic City Tourist Court apparitioned in 1928, it was an early motel operation made of rows of little clapboard cabins of Dade County Pine, a resinous wood planked and planed into cubicles for budget-minded Northern snowbird autoists of the day, vacation havens and hideaways for whomevers.
But, by the year that the 1922 Ford (too late) arrived, Magic City had lost most of its original doll house charm, and those cabins, each with an overhanging carport canopy to cover over the open touring cars of the day, were mostly gone in part or entirety to dampening decay.
Where some cabins had disappeared entirely, there sprang also-ancient mobile homes: single-wides implanted in the dirtiness of the 'fifties and 'sixties. The two parallel lanes of Magic City described a half city block long "U". Little more than microbes and gravitation of the same, had altered this place, except that Magic City grew ever poorer between pay days.
My Model T nosed in, chuffing at four-per in high gear, going extra-slow down Magic Lane. It was then that children, the children of Central American immigrants, native born, all of them, began to appear. It was the car, it was Pied Piper.
Within a few minutes, shouts, and more, and more: the Model T pulled a parade of barefooted youngsters in magnetic tow. "Give me a ride?" Uncles and aunts observed and then consented. The car opened its suicide-style doors and four or five at a time, children of four to eight years of age, were given slow motion rides in the auto.
The oldest girl of the dozen who rode was also the most beautiful, at no more than nine, with deep brown hair and almonds for orbs; she acted as conductor for her younger mates.
Rides and laughs. Magic City cabins overtaken by weeds and wood rot between tarnished Airstreams. After I debarked the last of the littlest ones....
The T and I are rolling back towards busy 2nd Avenue. Children still trot behind us. But they are losing ground. I will wave backwards and apply more throttle; you know, for a clean break.
"Wait! Wait! Stop!" she shouts. I haul back on the brake lever. And so she catches me again, and mounts the running board in order to meet my eyes. "Take this, please. We don't want you to ever forget us."
Have retained a green and purple foam rubber golf ball ever since. The ball containing images that should never fade.
I see into the orb and see her almond eyes again,
and tears of life are really joy, you see?